April 30, 2009

Watching The Time Blow By Your Face

My friend Brad sent me a link to this cool time lapse. Which makes me wonder how Brad has time to find so much cool stuff on the internet, what with his beautiful photographing and his eloquent lawyering and everything...
(And yes, the two beautiful people in the first picture on that second link are Angela and I... I'm the one who looks like he's wearing a skin yamika.)

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April 29, 2009

Workers Of The World, Unwind!

Just so you know, I might not be able to post for a few days. Tomorrow I've got to go to the Costa Rican version of the DMV called the "MOPT" to renew my driver's license. I'm pretty sure that stands for Ministerio de Obras Publicas and Transportación. It's in a heated competition with the phone monopoly ICE, the insurance monopoly INS, the Ministry of Migración, and the Junta de Agua de Berlín for the award of "Most Bastardly Costa Rican Bureaucracy of 2009."

To understand the MOPT, imagine a typical DMV in the US, but take away all the efficiency, non-corruption, and human warmth, and you'll get a pretty close idea of what the MOPT is like. Oh! And add a bunch of so-called gavilanes ("hawks"), which are losers who form lines outside the MOPT branches starting the night before, in order to "sell" their place in line and offer other thoroughly corrupt and bullshit extortionist services to motorists wishing to renew their licenses.

BUT, if I make it out of there in a day or two, I'll probably be able to relax on May 1st, which we have off for Labor Day! I know that in the US Friday is only "May Day," so if you're in the US, then the traditional May Pole can represent "the shaft" that you are getting by having to work on International Worker's Day.

All this, plus people losing their minds about pig flu, means that I might not be able to get to an open internet café over the weekend. If that's the case, I hope everyone is well, and we'll see you next week!

PS - If you did your own music album (see yesterday's post) and would like to share it, email it to me and I'll put them all up in a few days. I've gotten some pretty great ones so far!

PPS - For some reason, after I wrote the word "weekend," I got Loverboy's song by that name in my head. So, I share this classic with you:

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Extra Baggage

Why are all the productive people talking about what they put in their bags? Check here and here for examples. Perhaps I should give a tour of my own bag, or forever be doomed to wallow in my own inefficiency and decreased proactivity?

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April 28, 2009

Getting The Band Back Together

A while back, my friend Annie put up a post on her blog about her a "fake band" that she was in. At first I was a bit confused, because she and I were actually two of the founding members of another fake band that we formed while we were both TAs for the Scandinavian Department. That fake band was called Faded Sky Gods, and our first album was even going to be called "Bitch's Lucky Day." But then I found out that Annie had left Faded Sky Gods to embark on some solo work under the nom du musique(?) of "Osnat Elkabir." Her debut album was to be called "statesmen and philosophers and divines."

Not bad work, I have to admit, but it could have used more synthesizer.

In any case, I decided to follow the rules (detailed below) that Annie mentioned in her blog, and I started out on my own solo career under the name "Iffeldorf." As you can see from the cover of my debut album above, it's just about guaranteed to go multi-platinum in any country that has cassette players readily available.

In any case, here are the rules if you want to start your own band (cribbed from Annie's page, where it was cribbed from Facebook):

1 - Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”. The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
2 - Go to Quotations Page: the last four or five words of the very last quote on the page will be the title of your first album.
3 - Grab the first photo randomly generated from Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr here.

So, that's how I started on my own musical adventure. Evidently, "Iffeldorf" is the name of a town in southern Bavaria. Looks nice. The picture is from a random guy on flickr. And finally, the quote is the last part of a quote from Mignon McLaughlin that's good in it's own right. The quote goes: "I'm glad I don't have to explain to a man from Mars why each day I set fire to dozens of little pieces of paper, and then put them in my mouth."

Anyhow, it's all pretty good stuff. Try it out for yourself and tell me what you come up with!

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April 27, 2009

What A Terrible Language

In his book A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain included a section entitled "The Awful German Language." Here's a brief quotation to get this post started:

"A person who has not studied German can form no idea of what a perplexing language it is. Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp."

While I certainly would have agreed with Twain during the decade or so that I attempted to learn that "awful language," I have also come to realize by teaching English that my native tongue is not much kinder to language learners. My students have particular trouble with phrasal verbs, which are basically verbs that are followed by a preposition.

Don't feel bad if I lost you just there; in fact, for about 13 years between being in eighth grade and actually teaching eighth-graders, I wasn't able to tell my ass from an adjective. So, as a quick refresher, consider the verb "look." I can add different prepositions to the word, such as "up" or "down." With "look up" and "look down," I may be indicating a direction in which my listeners should direct their gazes, but these particular phrasal verbs also have other meanings. "Look up" can also mean to search for information in a work of reference, and "look down on" can also mean to regard someone with disappointment or disrespect.

But then consider something that looks simple at first glance, but which can get pretty hairy, especially if you're trying to explain it to a room of language learners. (This may also put to rest the claim that if someone speaks a language fluently, then he or she should naturally be able to teach it, no sweat): I submit to you the verbal phrases "close up" and "close down."

They look like simple opposites, right? But then you realize "close up" is maybe an adjective, since it describes a type of photography angle, and doesn't that mean you need a hyphen between the two words, as in, "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Spielberg!"

But wait, "close down" is completely different. It means to shut or deactivate something, right? And come to think of it, "close up" can also mean the same thing, as in "Let's close up the shop," but then in that case the "s" is no longer pronounced like an "s," but rather like a "z." And "Close Up" is also the name brand of toothpaste that you keep in your desk for the days that the cafeteria serves pungent food (ie, weekdays).

And this is just an easy example. Try to think of all the uses of the word "get," and you'll be happy to go back to the three words above. "Get," on the other hand, can be mixed around so much that it makes your head hurt and your stomach feel vaguely like you got bonked in the nuts.

How am I supposed to teach this language??

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April 25, 2009

Cheapskate Window Cleaner Recipe!

Based on the title of this blog, you may think that I've translated Sitzblog into Engrish. Not true.

Instead, I actually have another recipe that I wanted to share with you, although it's better not to ingest this one. Basically, we used up our Windex a few weeks ago while we were cleaning our gigantic windows, and I didn't want to pay out the ears to get more. As it turns out, you can easily make your own window cleaner at home, and it barely costs a thing! Plus, if you use newspapers instead of paper towels to clean the glass, it's like recycling! The newspapers can even get a third or fourth life if you let the cat crap in them, and then later use them to start a fire in the backyard when you have to burn your trash.*

*These last two uses are optional, and only really recommended if you have a cat and live in a pretty redneck-y place without trash service (like we do).

Nevertheless, this window cleaner recipe is quick, easy, cheap, and effective. I compiled this one based on a couple of other recipes I found in the internet. Hopefully it'll help make your Spring Cleaning less Crappy!

Mix the following ingredients:
-1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap
-3 Tablespoons vinegar (brown vinegar is better cause it looks more bad-ass)
-2 cups water

Put that all into a spray bottle and you're set to go! Or better yet, make multiple batches of the cleaner in a bowl or a small bucket, and clean the windows using a squeegee with a sponge attached. It works a lot more quickly, and that way, you only need to use the newspaper to clean up a few stray streaks and drips.

Sitzblog. Life lessons. For your life.

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April 24, 2009

Beer + Bread = Beer Bread

I've recently gotten into beer bread 'cause it's cheap and easy to make. I've been going off the basic recipe that I got from my sister Di. It goes, more or less:
-3 cups of flour
-4 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 cup sugar
-pinch of salt
-a beer

Then you mix them all together into a doughy lump, put into a greased bread pan, and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for about an hour. It comes out like a slightly heavy, boozy bread. In other words, it's delicious! (Don't fear; that picture above is the raw dough... the finished bread looks a lot less dense and afterbirth-y)

I'm not sure why I'm compelled to do this, but I decided to write a bit about the bread I made last weekend. Maybe I'll make it a regular feature of the blog, since I keep mixing up the recipe. In any case, this time I made some changes:

-I used Guinness. That was a good choice to make it darker, but it gave the final bread a bit of a bite that's familiar to Guinness drinkers.
-I used less sugar, about 1/4 cup, and instead of sugar it was actually something called tapa de dulce. More or less, it's like sugar cane that gets compressed and then ground. I think. They use it a lot here, and it's sort of like brown sugar, but doesn't really pack down as much. The end result is that you kinda get these little brown speckles in the finished bread. Kinda good.
-I used half regular flour and half whole-wheat. Makes it tastier and thicker. Probably more nutritious, too.

The tapa de dulce and the beer.

So basically, when it gets all gooey and nasty like in the picture below, it's ready to go. It's one of the lowest-maintenance breads out there, so I'd advise you to give it a go!

Hm, now I'm realizing I should have taken a picture of the golden loaf after it came out of the oven, too.
What an anticlimactic ending.

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April 20, 2009

Attack of the Clones?

The other day while talking about names in Costa Rica, I mentioned that it'd be weird if there were more Ryan Sitzmans out there. Well, it turns out that there is at least one on Facebook (a site that I still hate, but if it helps me reconnect with my long-lost clone, it may be worth it after all). There are also a couple of variations of Bryan/Brian Sitzman, although everyone knows that if you put a "B" in front of "Ryan," the name turns evil.

In any case, I wrote this message to Ryan Sitzman:
Hi there,
My name is also Ryan Sitzman. I know that's not really that interesting in and of itself, but since it's the same as yours, it's maybe worth mentioning. Still, I thought we could maybe be friends... or perhaps since we have the same name, I'm like your archrival or you're my nemesis or something. So if not friends, then perhaps enemies?
Anyhow, just figured I'd say hi. If you're ever in Central America, say hi. We could have some sort of Ryan Sitzman convention. We could even let the Brian and Bryan Sitzmans come. Maybe.
Have a good one,
The Other Ryan Sitzman

Then, I also came across a "Bryan Sitzmann." I sent him this message:
My name is Ryan Sitzman. That's basically your name with the first and last letters cut off.
Does that mean you're the more sophisticated, updated model? Is there some sort of a primitive "Yan Sitzma" lurking out there, who is merely jealous of me, but considers you to be a sort of mega-advanced Super(Sitz)mann?
Anyhow, just thought I'd say hi.
Ryan Sitzman

I just figured I'd mention this now, so that it's all well-documented in case I get taken to some sort of international tribunal and get charged with Internet Harassment in the First Degree.

Otherwise, though, it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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April 19, 2009

Sunday Magazine!

Hi There Everyone!

Well, I've got a few things to share with you for a Sunday Magazine. First up, we've got a link to an interesting Slate article about Mexico. It's take is basically that it's interesting to note that the U.S. and Mexico share such a huge border, but that the countries as a whole still "know" very little about each other. It's part of a larger series of articles on U.S.-Mexico relations. Check them out if you get a bit of time.

Next up here's another Slate article, but about something completely different: Limp Bizkit. Now, I hate Limp Bizkit, and I'm pretty sure most everyone else does by now, too. And the author sort of investigates that hatred, but also puts a slightly positive --but only slightly-- revisionist twist on the band. The writing is also pretty great, so have a read!

Now, check out these pictures:
Here and Here.
Don't worry, they're not inappropriate or anything really secretive --although they ARE Canadian-- but they're really cool!

Finally, the following video has nothing to do with horror, although I would still easily classify it as The Scariest Shit I've Seen In A Month Or So:

Anyhow, that should give you a few things to check out if you're having a boring Sunday. Make it a good one, and have a great week!

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April 18, 2009

A Nice Video, A Chill Song For Saturday Morning

If the EELS video I posted earlier was too intense for you, my friend Brad passed this video on to me:

It's pretty great. PLUS, it's stop-motion fun without all that creepy claymation! Enjoy, and have a good weekend!

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Wake-Up Call

Here's your Rockin' Saturday Morning Wake-Up Call:

And it comes with pancakes and zombies! Man, I love the EELS!

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April 17, 2009

Call To Arms, Sort Of

This is going to be a weird post.

OK, does anyone know about a music video from a few years back, where the band was on the roof of a building(?) and there were statistics projected onto the sides of other buildings? Or am I completely messed up, creating my own mental music videos?

I could have sworn that this was a video by Rage Against The Machine from the Godzilla soundtrack, but all my searching for such a video has been fruitless.

Has anyone got any leads?

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April 15, 2009

Sitzblog President Calls An Emergency Cabinet Meeting!

If you're into cupboards and kitchen furniture, then the new post on Gringiticasa is the place for you to be! I put up some pictures of our cabinets for my mom's benefit (she designed them and wanted to see them), but you can check them out, too, if you're into that sort of thing. Just click here. Enjoy!

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New Address, Sort Of

Well, Angela and I have moved into our new house.
That actually doesn't have anything to do with our new address, though, since no one actually relies on the postal service here to deliver letters. So as a result, our house "address" is actually just a description of where the house is. Translated, our possible address might be: "The intersection of the road to Berlin and the road to Llano Brenes." But that's just what you tell the taxi driver. Fortunately, it does get a bit more specific than that if you pay for a post office box, which is what we did.

We used to have a box in San Ramón, but we realized that we were never in San Ramón, especially during their limited postal hours. We also found out that there was a post office in Palmares, so we now have a box here. If you would like to send us a letter, then you are among the very few (thanks Grandma!). And if you indeed break through that letter writer's block, you can send it to:

Ryan Sitzman y Angela Jimenez
Apartado Postal 32-4300
Palmares, Alajuela
Costa Rica

Happy writing!

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April 14, 2009


For lunch, I went to the cafeteria at my work. I sat alone, ate my food, and then I took out "American Psycho," the book I'm reading now.

No one wanted to sit at my table with me, for some reason.

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April 13, 2009

Getting Some Name Recognition

This afternoon I had an appointment to show my car to a lady in Rincón de Zaragoza (de Palmares de Alajuela de Costa Rica). In any case, she was interested in buying it, and someone had given her my number. I went to her house since it was on my way up the mountain to Berlín, but she wasn't there. So I waited a half hour or so, reading in my car. That's not the point.

The point is that her name was María Cristina Rojas (by the way, if you're reading this, María Cristina Rojas, then: "WTF?"). This is significant because she told me last night on the phone that if I was unsure about where her house was, I could "ask around" to the neighbors and they'd point me in the right direction. So I got to the approximate location she'd indicated--a bar seriously named "Fory Fay," which is actually just "45" in English, mispronounced and then subsequently misspelled--and I noticed two old guys sitting on a retaining wall. I got out and asked them if they knew where María Cristina Rojas lived.

"She's been dead for a few years now," one of them replied. Doubtful about having spoken the previous night with a ghost in the market for a 2001 Toyota RAV-4, I asked again.

"María Cristina Rojas," the man asked, "or María Cristina Rojas Rojas?" I told him I was looking for the one with only one "Rojas." "Oh," he replied, pointing, "it's that house over there." Evidently our double-Rojas was the dead one.

How weird that in a country of only 4 million people or so, there can be so many people with similar and even identical names. And that's taking into consideration that people here usually use four names instead of just three.

Another weird fact: my wife is named Ángela Jiménez (well, she's named Ángela Rosa de los Ángeles Jiménez Mora de Sitzman, officially), and while growing up she lived next door to an Angelica Jiménez. And they weren't related.

A final weird fact: There was a family in Berlín that had the customary 16 or so kids, but three of them ended up being named Francisco. Supposedly, while at the hospital after giving birth, their mother had forgotten that she'd already used that name. Twice.

My new theory: I have an archnemesis somewhere out there, and his name is Bryan Sitzman. I'll have to check Facebook.

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April 7, 2009

Just Stopping By

Dutch scientists recently announced that they'd isolated the least humorous joke on record. It goes as follows:

A: What's up?
B: Man, my freaking back hurts from moving.

According to lead research scientist Lijm van der Sneuhouten, the joke "[is] actually not funny because it's true."

Anyhow, joke's on me, cause Angela and I were moving all last weekend into our new house! It's great to finally be in there, but we're really tired, and things aren't quite accomodated yet. But it's a great feeling. In fact, last night while sitting on the sofa, we both confessed that we had had the same private fear that we wouldn't live to see the day when we'd actually live in the house.

We do now.

In any case, my internet time has therefore been lacking, and to add to that, it's Holy Week here. It doesn't really get into the swing of things until Thursday and Friday, when the country grinds to a halt. So probably don't expect any blog entries then. Curiously enough, though, on Easter Sunday everything is open, so maybe I can put up something then. You can read about this strange cultural phenomenon in a blog entry I wrote last year.

So, I'll hope to post more soon--especially pictures--but in the meantime, thanks for checking in!

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April 2, 2009

You Can See Haven From Here

Apparently, I live in a tax haven! Sweet! According to the OECD, Costa Rica is one of only four countries that fit that description now. The others are Uruguay, Malaysia, and the Philippines... but we're first on the list! Alphabetize that and suck it, Uruguay!

Now, a serious question: does anyone know how I can benefit--or even better, profit--from this?

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Can You Hear The Tippity-Tap Of A Typed April Fool's Joke?

Well, I feel a little bad, since there were so many nice comments from everyone, but yesterday's post about Angela being pregnant was just a little joke. Sorry, but I couldn't help myself. I did start it off with "Believe it or not," though...

The other two posts--about the rain and Argentina getting its ass handed to it--were (sad but) true.

I also tricked some of my students with one of those "read and follow all the directions carefully" quizzes, where the final instruction out of 25 is something like "disregard all the other instructions and quietly watch your less-attentive classmates go crazy."

I'm not sure if this is as good as the time when I was in 12th grade and I went to work at my dad's clinic with a fake eye bandage that I had colored red in spots with a dry-erase marker. That was pretty good, and it even led him to retaliate by sending a prospective "Mafia Bride" to come to my school and hassle me in the middle of class. That's a true (but long) story for another time, I suppose.

In any case, sorry Paul, but you won't be an uncle soon, and sorry, "Auntie Di," that we won't be able to convince you to watch our offspring for us... yet.

But one day, hopefully.

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April 1, 2009

Can You Hear The Pitter-Patter Of Little Feet?

Believe it or not, but according to the doctor, the two freaks in the picture above will be parents about 8 months from now!! More information to come, of course, but for now, it's time for a (non-alcoholic) celebration!!

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So Soon, Monsoon?

Today seems to be a day of post titles ending with question marks. In any case, it hadn't rained here in Costa Rica for three months or so, until yesterday. There were some showers, but they weren't that heavy, at least by Costa Rican standards.

(ASIDE: For all my readers in Colorado, you know how it occasionally can rain like freaking crazy there, where the rain makes the air in front of you become opaque, but fortunately it only lasts about 5 minutes? Here showers like that can last for days. END ASIDE)

In any case, I guess that today also marks the official start of the rainy season, a.k.a. the "Green Season," if the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo has anything to say about it. But to Dustin, Sam, Annie, and anyone else who may be contemplating visiting soon: don't worry! The rain is sporadic and is usually relegated to the afternoon until August or so. Then in September it finally stops its latino procrastination and starts to downpour in earnest. So if you're coming in May or June, you'll still be relatively dry most of the time, at least in theory.

But the mold is a whole other story.

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Bolivia 6, Argentina 1?

I know I've mentioned I'm not much of a sports fan, but this caught even my attention. Poor Argentineans! And who knew that Bolivia even HAD a soccer team?!

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